Phil Kitromilides believes Brazil's attacking prowess should see them find the back of the net in the World Cup opener and thinks Hulk offers the best value in the scorers marketThe eyes of the globe should be treated to an entertaining opening game of the World Cup, with Croatia boasting enough talent to make the first fixture of the tournament a competitive one against Brazil.
The burden of expectation weighs heavy on the hosts and in particular on the shoulders of their one genuine superstar Neymar, of whom enormous things are not just excpected but demanded.
The Barcelona forward will be desperate to get off the mark in the competition and is offered at 10/3 (4.33) by William Hill to score the first goal of the game and indeed the World Cup.
He can also be backed at 4/5 (1.80) to net at any time although that seems a little short and there may be better value to be had elsewhere in the myriad of goalscorer markets that are available.
Forward Fred is likely to lead the line for the Luiz Felipe Scolari's side and is available at evens (2.00) to score at anytime during the 90 minutes, while Hulk can be backed at 21/20 (2.05) to open his account at the first opportunity.
Croatia, meanwhile, are rank outsiders to score with their shortest priced first goalscorer, former Arsenal striker Eduardo at 14/1 (15.00).
Though he has not be prolific for Real Madrid, Luka Modric can strike the ball extremely well and at 7/1 (8.00) in the any time market he might be worthy of investment from punters looking for a value bet.
Realistically though, the serious bet has to be on a Brazilian forward and the price of 21/20 (2.05) from William Hill for Hulk to score is tempting.
He has scored in three of Brazil's last five matches and while he does not play as an out-and-out striker, he will certainly be in enough of an advanced position to be a real threat to Croatia. With Fred and Neymar taking the majority of the attention, the Zenit man could be the beneficiary.
|Hulk to score at any time at 21/20 (2.05) 3.0pt stake with William Hill|
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV presenter in Madrid